Location

By Location Alaska Albuquerque Allentown Amsterdam Anaheim Anchorage Ann Arbor Atlanta Austin Baton Rouge Bend Binghamton Boston Boulder Canada Cardiff Charlotte Chatsworth Chicago Chippenham Cleveland Columbia SC Columbus Dallas Denver Des Moines Detroit Edmonton Eugene Fayetteville Fort McMurray Fredericton Gainesville Glendale Great Falls Greensboro Harbor City Harrisburg Hawaii Hawthorne Hollywood Honolulu houston Ithaca Kalkaska Kelowna Koreatown Las Vegas Lima London London (Canada) Los Angeles Louisville Manchester Miami Minneapolis/St Paul Montreal Nashville New Orleans New York City Nickelsville Norway Oakland Ocala Oslo Ottawa Oxford Paradise Pasadena Peru Philadelphia Phoenix Pine Ridge Pittsburgh Portland Reseda Sacramento Salt Lake City San Diego San Francisco San Jose San Luis Obispo Santa Monica Saskatoon Seattle Shawnee Skid Row Springfield St John's St Louis St. Petersburg Syracuse Tacoma Tampa Toronto Traverse City Tulsa United Kingdom Vancouver Venice Beach Vermont Victoria Wales Washington DC Wentzville Westwood Wichita Wilmington Winnipeg Yellowknife By topic Addiction Advocacy Affordable housing Art and Music Awareness Charity Cold Weather College Students Community Involvement Coronavirus Couch Surfing Couple Criminalization Data Disabled Divorce Domestic violence Drug testing Education Employment Eviction Ex-convict Faith based Families Family conflict Female Financial crisis Foster care Harm reduction Health care HIV/AIDS Homeless count Homeless deaths Hostels (UK shelters) Hotels Housing First HUD Human trafficking Identification Incarceration Indigenous Invisible People Invisible Stories Job loss K2/Spice (Synthetic Marijuana) LGBT Libraries Lived Experience Male Mental illness Mobile Homeless Natural disasters NIMBY Outreach Panhandling Peer Support Pets Poverty Pregnant PTSD Public Feeding Racism Recycling Relationships Research Rural Schools Seniors Sex Offenders Sex Worker Shelters Single Parent Social Media Social Security Socks Solutions Street Soccer Survival sex System Failure Systems Change Technology Tent Cities Tiny Homes Transgender Travelers Veteran Vietnam Veteran Violence Waiting list Welfare Working poor Youth EVENTS @home contests PBS road trip road trip 2009 road trip 2010 road trip 2011 road trip 2013 to fight youth homelessness sober birthday campaign SXSW TEDx INTERVIEWS Learn More Canadian Homelessness Coronavirus and Homelessness Criminalization of Homelessness Family Homelessness Homeless Seniors Homeless Veterans Homeless Youth Homelessness Mobile Homelessness Panhandling Tent Encampments U.K. Homelessness MISCELLANEOUS 360 video Awards Cause Marketing Dream Center Gates Foundation Google Glass Media Patreon Tribute World Trade Center YouTube More Updates

topic

By Location Alaska Albuquerque Allentown Amsterdam Anaheim Anchorage Ann Arbor Atlanta Austin Baton Rouge Bend Binghamton Boston Boulder Canada Cardiff Charlotte Chatsworth Chicago Chippenham Cleveland Columbia SC Columbus Dallas Denver Des Moines Detroit Edmonton Eugene Fayetteville Fort McMurray Fredericton Gainesville Glendale Great Falls Greensboro Harbor City Harrisburg Hawaii Hawthorne Hollywood Honolulu houston Ithaca Kalkaska Kelowna Koreatown Las Vegas Lima London London (Canada) Los Angeles Louisville Manchester Miami Minneapolis/St Paul Montreal Nashville New Orleans New York City Nickelsville Norway Oakland Ocala Oslo Ottawa Oxford Paradise Pasadena Peru Philadelphia Phoenix Pine Ridge Pittsburgh Portland Reseda Sacramento Salt Lake City San Diego San Francisco San Jose San Luis Obispo Santa Monica Saskatoon Seattle Shawnee Skid Row Springfield St John's St Louis St. Petersburg Syracuse Tacoma Tampa Toronto Traverse City Tulsa United Kingdom Vancouver Venice Beach Vermont Victoria Wales Washington DC Wentzville Westwood Wichita Wilmington Winnipeg Yellowknife By topic Addiction Advocacy Affordable housing Art and Music Awareness Charity Cold Weather College Students Community Involvement Coronavirus Couch Surfing Couple Criminalization Data Disabled Divorce Domestic violence Drug testing Education Employment Eviction Ex-convict Faith based Families Family conflict Female Financial crisis Foster care Harm reduction Health care HIV/AIDS Homeless count Homeless deaths Hostels (UK shelters) Hotels Housing First HUD Human trafficking Identification Incarceration Indigenous Invisible People Invisible Stories Job loss K2/Spice (Synthetic Marijuana) LGBT Libraries Lived Experience Male Mental illness Mobile Homeless Natural disasters NIMBY Outreach Panhandling Peer Support Pets Poverty Pregnant PTSD Public Feeding Racism Recycling Relationships Research Rural Schools Seniors Sex Offenders Sex Worker Shelters Single Parent Social Media Social Security Socks Solutions Street Soccer Survival sex System Failure Systems Change Technology Tent Cities Tiny Homes Transgender Travelers Veteran Vietnam Veteran Violence Waiting list Welfare Working poor Youth EVENTS @home contests PBS road trip road trip 2009 road trip 2010 road trip 2011 road trip 2013 to fight youth homelessness sober birthday campaign SXSW TEDx INTERVIEWS Learn More Canadian Homelessness Coronavirus and Homelessness Criminalization of Homelessness Family Homelessness Homeless Seniors Homeless Veterans Homeless Youth Homelessness Mobile Homelessness Panhandling Tent Encampments U.K. Homelessness MISCELLANEOUS 360 video Awards Cause Marketing Dream Center Gates Foundation Google Glass Media Patreon Tribute World Trade Center YouTube More Updates

In the Midst of COVID-19, Let’s Remember that Housing is Healthcare

Apartment building exterior

When I start thinking about the concerns surrounding COVID-19, the first thing that comes to mind is housing and homelessness. As a formerly homeless person, this is hardly surprising. I worry about my homeless friends, about my sheltered friends and about my housed friends. In three months, I worry that they won’t be housed anymore. I worry they will get sick, and their sickness will turn to homelessness.

Although I have no immediate threat to my housing, I can’t help but feel anxious. I worry that, somehow, that could be me, too – again. This is no exaggeration. Remember friends, even without an epidemic such as this, it only takes one missed paycheck, one death in the family, one hospital stay, one tragedy to end up homeless. It doesn’t take much, and right now, there’s a whole lot up against us. There’s a lot of uncertainty. There’s a lot of confusion. We’re slow to act, and we’re running out of time.

Now more than ever we need proper housing for homeless people.

We have homeless New Yorkers in tightly-packed shelters where the coronavirus can spread rapidly. All homeless New Yorkers should be moved to safe, quality housing as quickly as possible. There’s no simpler way to put it – many will die otherwise.

Dorm-style singles shelters are especially at risk of this. But even family shelters are incredibly overcrowded. Take Park View, an adult families’ shelter in Harlem as an example. When my husband and I resided there in 2017, I was sick off and on for eight months. If it wasn’t the flu, it was an ear infection, or an eye infection. I wonder if I would have survived COVID-19 if I were still living in that shelter.

The harsh reality is I probably wouldn’t have – not with both a heart condition and asthma coupled with depression and a weak immune system from stress and lack of an adequate diet.

It is immoral to allow our homeless New Yorkers to suffer through this. As mentioned in “Forget Getting Sick – Am I Going to be Homeless Again?”, the city of New York has temporarily halted evictions to prevent the inevitable influx of homelessness and keep housed people housed.

It’s time to realize that housing IS healthcare.

If we are to accept that housing is required to keep us safe and healthy and will save lives then we must also realize that an eviction moratorium is not enough. Sure, it’s the first step. It’s critical that every housed person remains housed. But it will not be enough.

I can’t stress this enough, friends. When the eviction moratorium is lifted, every household that has experienced a loss of income will be sinking under three months of living expenses. With so many Americans already living paycheck to paycheck, this is simply unacceptable.

Forgiving rent and mortgage debt accumulated during this period will help keep New Yorkers in their homes and stabilize our economy and our state. If our state legislative leaders do not implement an immediate cancellation on rent, we must consider a rent strike.

Rent Strike to Prevent Homelessness

This would be a good time to be both in communication with your landlord, as well as your neighbors. Although it is necessary to communicate your concerns to your landlord, as someone who has had her fair share of bad landlords, I imagine your landlord is probably not your friend. The reality is your landlord will most likely get through this, while you may not. Property owners have had, and always had more protections in comparison to renters.

Now more than ever, renters will suffer.

In fact, Governor Andrew Cuomo has swooped in to help homeowners out during the COVID-19 public health emergency. However, he has yet to issue any rent relief for tenants. Renters make up nearly half the state’s households and are already more likely to pay more than one-third of their income on housing compared to homeowners. Yet they have not received such payment relief from the state amid mass lay-offs.

Cuomo has suspended eviction proceedings indefinitely in New York, though even that moratorium has a loophole that has allowed landlords to file hundreds of new eviction cases against tenants.

Cea Weaver, a campaign coordinator for Housing Justice for All, a tenants’ rights group in New York says, “We need rent relief—in the form of canceled rent, for the duration of the crisis—now. Cuomo can do this by executive order, and he must.”

Now is the time to come together to protect yourself and your neighbors. Now is the time to organize and exhaust your efforts in community development and support. It is now time to talk and listen to your homeless friends, to check in, and discover ways to help. We must come together. Our voices are louder in unison.

The Philadelphia Tenants Union has provided a detailed guide for all new organizers during the COVID-19 crisis. Please familiarize yourself with these details before proceeding to rent strike.

Photo courtesy of Niklas Herrmann on Unsplash


Jocelyn Figueroa

     

Jocelyn Figueroa studied Creative Non-Fiction at The New School and is a blogger and freelance writer based out of New York City. Formerly homeless, she launched her own blog discussing shelter life in New York City. Today, Jocelyn is on a mission to build connections through storytelling and creative writing.

Related Topics



Your support can create amazing change

Join the campaign to end homelessness by supporting the only newsroom focused solely on the topic of homelessness. Our original reporting — posted five to seven days a week — can also be found on Apple News and Google News. Through storytelling, education, news, and advocacy, we are changing the narrative on homelessness.

Invisible People is a nonprofit organization. We rely on the support of friends like you — people who understand that well-written, carefully researched stories can change minds about this issue. And that’s what leads to true transformation and policy change. Our writers have their fingers on the pulse of homeless communities. Many are formerly or currently homeless themselves. They are the real experts, passionate about ending homelessness. Your support helps us tell the true story of this crisis and solutions that will end it. Your donations help make history by telling the real story of homelessness to inspire tangible actions to end it.

Your donation, big or small, will help bring real change.

DONATE NOW



Get the Invisible People newsletter


RECENT STORIES

homeless man in austin

Martin

Los Angeles Homeless Woman Lost Her Legs to Frostbite

Monica

homeless man in austin

David

Disabled Homeless Mom

Cori and her daughter


RECENT ARTICLES

housing is healthcare

Housing Is Healthcare

Mobile Homes

As Rents Skyrocket for Manufactured Homes, So Does Risk of Homelessness

Remembering Shay

Remembering Shay, My Homeless Friend

rent in a harlem apartment building

Harlem Apartment Residents on Rent Strike Over Building Conditions

Get the Invisible People newsletter